The Top 11 Cars of 2012

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Whew!  That was fast.  Seems like I was just struggling to pick my favorites from 2011 and it’s time to do it again.

As always, my list goes up to 11 since 10 seems so overdone (and allows me to sneak in one more choice).  Enthusiast magazines have the performance models covered so I’ve begun focusing on more mainstream models that consumers tend to buy.  That hardly means fun is off this list, it just means high performance is not the only priority.  I’ve tried to include the major categories such as family sedan, crossovers, budget rides and so on.

Finally, I’m a huge advocate of test-driving at least three vehicles before buying so I’m naming runner-ups.  I’ll fully admit it isn’t a perfect science.  In some cases the prices and sizes swing wildly.  It could be due to the runner up’s excellent value, or that the vehicle is very unique.  What I’m trying to do is recognize good vehicles and let you know what I enjoyed this year.

The list is alphabetical, base prices include destination, and if there’s a video review there are clickable links.  As always, a price cap of 80K applies (but only one vehicle comes close to that this year).

Leave your comments and complaints about too many Chevys below.  As always, your Facebook “likes” and Tweets are greatly appreciated.

Once again, I’ll roll fraternal twins Audi A6 [$50,775] and A7 [$60,125] together as one.  The 6 is the traditional sedan with a more spacious back seat.  A7 is the super-model sister, with an unexpected practical twist- a hatchback.  Both get a swept instrument panel and sporty balanced driving dynamics.  Yes, you’ll pay for the A7’s svelte shape, but hey, it just might be worth it for those who enjoy beautiful things.

Both these cars employ easy to use technology such as Google Maps navigation and a wireless hot spot that allows privileged kids in the back seat to surf the net with their MacBook Airs.  The driver gets a responsive chassis that fun to drive and passengers don’t get beat up by a harsh suspension.

Options include the BMW 5 Series (because, well, it’s the 5 Series), Lexus GS Series (in my opinion the best handling car in class) and the Chrysler 300 (a full sized sedan with a surprising amount of luxury at a very reasonable price).

Cadillac ATS [$33,990] This one took days to choose between because both this and BMW’s excellent new 3 Series were new this year.  I’ll admit that the tiebreaker comes down to Cadillac being the over achiever in its first direct attempt to take on The King.  There are three engine choices but wise buyers will go with the turbo motor or the V6 (take the 6 if you can swing the extra cash).

ATS looks great, handles great, and offers up a well-crafted interior.  The slow touch response of the Cadillac User Experience (or CUE) will frustrate some but out of the gate it’s world’s better than the original iDrive.  In the end, the Cadillac had the elusive “drive-me-harder, drive-me-faster” quality that makes a sport sedan desirable.  It doesn’t have the pedigree of the 3 Series but it just may create a new automotive rivalry.

Shoppers should also consider BMW’s 3 Series (epic lineage, refined performance) Audi A4 (overall Audi panache inside and out), and the real sleeper, Volvo’s S60 T5 AWD (surprisingly athletic, unique active safety features, and great in-class value)

Chevrolet Sonic LTZ [$18,660] Who knew GM could produce a great small car?  Over the past year they’ve demonstrated that plenty of people are happy to snap up a subcompact hatch built in the exotic country of Michigan.  It’s affordable, fun in the corners, and the powerful turbo engine gets 40 mpg on the highway.

Personally, I highly suggest going with the turbo engine because of the low-end torque that give Sonic a frisky feel.

There aren’t many small hatchbacks on the market but check out the Honda Fit (amazing ability to look a size bigger on the inside and flexible seating), Kia Soul (funky design, very roomy, zippy performance, affordable for even hamsters) Hyundai Elantra GT (unique design, same attributes that make the sedan a winner).

2013 Chevrolet Traverse [$31,370 FWD] I’ve been lukewarm to Chevy’s full-sized crossover in the past but the refresh has changed my tune. The odd tail lamps have been changed, the grill is new, and most important, the interior is vastly improved.  The upscale look is very welcomed.

Chevy engineers kept going with a more refined ride quality.  It’s still spacious and comfortable for up to eight passengers too.  For those looking for a more premium experience, graduate to platform mate 2013 Buick Enclave.  It gets the same kind of improvements with a luxurious new cabin featuring ice blue light piping that wraps around to the rear doors.

Other SUVs and crossovers to consider are the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango (GC is for the few that really need extreme boulder-hopping with everyday utility for five, Durango works better for families with seating for seven), Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T (roomy five-seat crossover that’s quiet and distinctive), and Volvo XC60 (a near-luxury crossover that’s beautiful, nimble and full of advanced safety technology.

For the sensible, there’s always the Chrysler Town and Country minivan.  The flexible Stow ‘n Go mid-row seats make it my van pick for active families.

Chevrolet Volt [$39,995 before tax credits] An on-board generator makes Volt the best choice for people who want an electric car as their only car. I’ve had this car a couple times for weeklong tests and find it a real charge to drive (pun intended) on so many different levels.

Sporty handling means Volt is actually fun to drive.  The deep technology lets drivers save the battery range for situations where it’s more efficient.   With all that’s been written about this vehicle I’m surprised to find people still say “I’d buy one but I need to go farther that 30 miles”.  Wake up people, this car is as deep as it is accommodating.

For those who are looking to tread lightly on Mother earth, check out Toyota Prius (fuel efficient, affordable, with hatchback utility), Lexus CT200h (nicely appointed, more fun to drive than Prius, expressive hatchback design) Ford C-Max Hybrid (roomy, sculpted good looks, good quality interior materials.  For a pure electric experience, the Nissan Leaf stands alone (until Tesla forks over a Model S press car).

Ford Focus [$16,995] Most will go for the standard four-door sedan or five-door hatch but there’s always the option of the tire shredding ST model.  Regardless of which one you buy, Focus has loads of what was once known as “Euro feel”.   It’s quickly being adapted by the Americans, especially Ford.

The best thing about Focus is it can be whatever kind of car you want.  Buy a base model and it’s good solid transportation.  Load it with options (there’s even a self-park system) and it’s darn close to a near-luxury car.  It feels solid, gets Ford’s sculpted design language and returns decent MPG numbers.

Cross shop Volkswagen Golf/Jetta/GTI (hard to believe GTI didn’t make the list, the first time ever), Buick Verano (a guilty pleasure that combines compact size with premium amenities), Chevy Cruze (quiet and comfortable), Dodge Dart (elegant design, expressive interior, and balanced driving dynamics) and Hyundai Elantra (swoopy sheetmetal, premium features, value pricing if the dealer doesn’t add mandatory $2,000 floor mats).

2013 Honda Accord [$22,470] Unlike Car and Driver, I have never had the Accord on my “best of” list.  That changes with generation nine.  Honda has dispatched the awkward sheetmetal and given buyers a classically sober yet handsome Honda sedan.  It’s three inches shorter but more spacious inside and that interior has been cleaned up with few buttons.  Quieter on the road too.  Finally.

While it is not the value/feature leader in class, it brings back the difficult-to-describe gravitas that made Accord a winner in the past.   The ride is the perfect blend comfort and composure with a dash of sport thrown in.  While fuel economy is good, look for both a hybrid and plug-in hybrid in 2013.

This is an unusually competitive segment and subject to individual tastes so I strongly recommend thorough research when buying in this class.   Other strong contenders are Kia Optima and Hyundai Sonata (for great value and expressive design), VW Passat (roomy and amazing TDI fuel economy), Ford Fusion (Euro driving dynamics and styling), Chevy Malibu (luxury car quiet and terrific interior design), and Nissan Altima (all-around pleaser).

2013 Mazda CX-5 [$21,790 FWD] There’s just something about Mazda’s compact crossover that sits right with me.  The sculpted design is interesting but not outrageous and the size is just right.  In a world that seems to lack common sense, this compact crossover nails it at every turn.

Like all Mazdas, the CX-5 is fun to drive (for a crossover anyways).  The SKYACTIV suite of technologies offers decent fuel economy and performance plus you’ll drive more since the CX is comfortable enough to handle road trips.  I know this first hand, shuttling four teen boys up to Vancouver, BC to compete in an Ultimate Frisbee tournament.   Now that’s a vehicle test.

Also check out Ford Escape (great reputation and possible winner but since Ford did not have a press car, I have been unable to review it), Honda CR-V (often the most popular CUV on the road) and Buick Encore (premium amenities in a diminutive package, nothing else quite like it on the market).

2013 Porsche Boxter [$50,450] This car singlehandedly makes me want to become wealthy.  There are more expensive Porsches but I’m not sure they’re better when it comes to real-world performance driving.  The flat Boxer engine mounted low behind the two seats gives this roadster a magical driving dynamic. The chassis is stouter than the Brooklyn Bridge, the motor sounds better than insider trading advice.

A meticulously crafted cabin means you’ll always enjoy a great view, even if you’re still in the garage. The design is evolutionary with crisper shape and a spoiler that’s integrated seamlessly into the taillights.  Go with the S model if you feel you need more power.  Want a hardtop?  Sister Cayman is on its way to Porsche stores soon.

For more top down driving with soul I highly recommend the Audi TTS (Audi style, all-wheel drive performance), Mazda MX-5 Miata (great value and alone in it’s price class), Ford Mustang GT (performance, value and seating for four) and Nissan 370Z (because the GT-R is way too expensive to meet the price cutoff).

Scion FR-S / Subaru BRZ  [$24,930 and $26,265] There’s really nothing like these twin rear-drive sport coupes.  The low-profile Boxer engine keeps the center of gravity low, which raises the fun-to-drive quotient to high.  Some might complain that 200 horsepower isn’t enough or that some additional low-end torque would be nice but really, on public roads, it’s tough to imagine having more fun than this.

Go ahead, argue all you want about which is better, the Scion or the Subie.  If you can discern a clear difference between the two than by all means open up your own suspension tuning shop.  I just know they’re both great fun and can be a perfectly reasonable daily driver.

Competition?  Ummmmm, ahhhhhh… maybe the Mazda MX-5 Miata but it’s tough to pit a two-seat roadster against a 2+2 coupe.  Let’s just say the Scionaru stands alone.  

31 Comments

  1. i found lots of positive reviews regarding to Subaru BRZ.. Nice sporty car.I like it.

  2. jabv02 says:

    hi tom

    im about to change my car (2011 focus st) for an SUV, not because i wan to, but because i need to, im 23 years old and, i´ll start my own business, so… my question is, what SUV might fit my lifestyle.

    something practical but with a engine not so slow.

    i hope u understand my dilemma hahahaha

    • TV says:

      I need to know a few things before I give you a number of choices-

      What’s your budget?

      What are you going to be doing with it?

      How important is fuel economy?

      Anything catching your eye at the moment?

  3. jabv02 says:

    Hi tom!!!.

    Probably next year i´ll change my car (2011 ford focus st), for an suv, because my life needs one not because i want to :(, anyway my question is, if u can give me some advise about which SUV might be the right for me, I’m 23 years old, I’m about to start my own business (chef) and i don’t want to miss the power while I’m driving …

  4. sangelo says:

    Tom, I think your the most objective and knowledgeable reviewer and I’m glad you don’t bash the big three on a consistent basis like other reviewers like Consumer Reports and even Car and Driver. You even said in one of your reports that you think American cars are as good as the foreign competition today. In fact you said, “I don’t see it”.

    I have a question about the new Chevrolet Malibu. Do you think this car has been unjustly criticized ? I know you drove the Eco version and kind of liked it, what is your opinion of the 2.5 and the Turbo ? I understand that GM has listened and is correcting the issues that the public has with the car which is most notably the rear seat legroom. Other than that, I think the interior quality is pretty good, although I never drove the car. I’d like your opinion and what do you think GM should correct on the car ?

    • TV says:

      I have a review of the Malibu turbo coming up in a week or two (the Nissan Altima will be up in a few days).

      I don’t think the Eco quite delivers the fuel economy that it should given the tech and yes, the back seat is on the smaller side in class. Malibu is now a global car and I think the car was shortened to fit into what the rest of the world considers a mid-sized sedan Think about the US version of the Accord which is the smaller TSX in the rest of the world. Should the US have gotten a wheelbase stretched a couple inches to carve out more seat room? Seems like a good idea in hindsight OR maybe Chevy is planning to push the new Impala into the mainstream slot.

      That said I believe the Malibu has been unfairly criticized. I see the interior at near or top of the class (especially the great night lighting). It’s quiet, comfortable and still manages to handle deftly. The MyLink system works clearly and the turbo engine has plenty of power. I’m still a little iffy on the rear end design.

      You’ll see my review soon enough. Does this answer your question?

  5. Steve says:

    Wow! Nice list, Tom. I bet 2012 was one of your most fun years for reviewing new cars. From what I’ve seen in your reviews, even the “dud” cars were pretty darn nice. Even better, one of the things I’ve been complaining about for years has finally caught the attention of the designers and we can actually now buy an amazingly nice car at the bottom of the heap and not have to go all the way to the top of the line to get (pretty much) everything we would want on a car. Admittedly, base pricing has gone up a bit along with the length of the features lists, but if you get a car you really love and not one you just put up with, it’s worth the extra coin. In some cases, some of the less expensive cars have much better styling and layouts than more expensive models. Go figure!

    I do have one concern with the direction car designers are heading these days, though. Many of the reviewers have been overly impressed with all the new technology manufacturers are putting in the new designs. A lot of the reviews pretty much express the opinion that if the car doesn’t have all the toys it’s not worth driving. Mostly, the gist of the reviews falls under the old adage “more is better” and they just can’t get enough of the stuff. Thank heaven you’re here to keep our feet on the ground and our distracted heads out of the clouds (and other car’s fenders!)

    Big touch screens and navigation units with voice control and backup cameras and the like are becoming more and more commonplace. For myself, I find them to be a little distracting and therefore a bit like an engraved invitation to a front row seat at an accident. I personally prefer a dash interface where the volume knob stays in the same place all the time and I don’t have to go through four levels of menus to change the input or function of the system. I suppose I could get used to some of the simpler ones after a bit if I could keep from parking the car in someone else’s trunk long enough to get a handle on the layouts. For myself, if I need to use a home theater system I’ll just stay home and keep that stuff out of my driving environment.

    How has your reaction to all this tech been? Have you been able to pick it up easily enough that you feel comfortable driving while changing settings on the dash interface or has there been a learning curve, steep or otherwise? It seems to be the path of the future, though I have heard there are some studies being done on the impact (pun intended) of these devices on driver safety. With many states absolutely banning texting while driving (some even are considering banning text to speech systems as equally distracting) and some taking a dim view even on just talking on a cell phone, there is a precedent already established. I’m hoping that there’s some good middle ground where some of the new tech that can make cars easier to use and drive can evolve and the pure entertainment stuff can be left behind. How does the word on the street seem to be heading on this?

    At any rate, the reviews are looking great and I’m happy to hear you’re getting used to the new production setup. Just a thought…are you looking into 4K video? To hear tell from the CES updates this year, 4K ultra hd is going to be a BIG deal in the next year or so, with many sets being introduced for sale in the states this year, some of which are even looking affordable. That’s progress, I guess. We just get used to HDTV and they come up with a new system. Kind of like what’s happening in car tech improvements. Best way to look at it I guess is that it’s a spectacular time to be alive on this planet. If nothing else, life will not be boring on the tech front for some time to come.

    Have a happy and successful new year!

    • TV says:

      Always good to see great looking cars that don’t cost an arm and a leg.

      Personally, I’m not a huge fan of most of the user interfaces. I think the Chrysler Uconnect is best because it’s less about flash and more about simplicity. The biggest compliment is that it doesn’t feel like a “user interface”, it feels like regular controls. Almost all of them have dedicated volume knobs though. Thank goodness.

      Automakers are in a hard place because drivers want to use their devices in the car and if the manufacturers don’t provide a way to connect them, people will just ignore laws and pick them up to use them. Personally, I won’t answer my phone unless it’s connected to Bluetooth, keep calls very short, and never ever look at a text. I can’t stop others from doing that though. As a runner, I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve nearly been hit by a distracted phone-holding drivers.

      4K video? No thanks. I bought a new HD camera six months ago so it will be three to four years before I even think of a new one. More importantly, it will be at least that long before the format starts to catch on. There is no programing at all for them. None. Not even a media player for movies. Most TV stations have only recently upgraded their field cameras to HD units and those will be used for at least five years. My station (KING TV) was among the first in the US to use HD field cameras and I’m still using the same one nine years later. Pro HD cameras are very costly, many of them over 40K with lens. Installing new 4K cameras, routing equipment, players, edit gear and transmitters is prohibitively expensive and Comcast compresses the existing HD signal so much it’s criminal.

      Most watch these reviews on an iPhone, iPad or computer screen anyways so it really doesn’t make any difference.

      • Steve says:

        Tom,

        Exactly right. On both counts. No, we can’t stop people from doing crazy things with their tech in their cars. We can be good examples wherever possible by avoiding that stuff when we drive with passengers, especially younger ones who are forming their ideas on good driving practice and are about to acquire or just recently got a driving license. Can’t be good examples to other drivers who are preoccupied with their texting. They probably never saw us.

        I, too, never text while driving. I’ve gone so far as to have the texting feature on the phone completely disabled by the carrier. That solves that. I also keep calls brief and only answer those from family while on the road. That’s easy to do by customizing your ring tones to actually say the name of the caller. Everybody else can leave a message and I’ll call them back when I’m not driving.

        It would be nice if we could fix bad behavior through legislation, but that’s not likely to ever happen. You can’t legislate common sense. I feel the automakers pain. They’re kind of in a darned if you do and darned if you don’t place. If they don’t put in the stuff they could lose the customer. If they put it the stuff they could lose the customer to a texting accident. Either way, not good for anybody. At least they’re trying to make the interfaces as easy to use as is humanly possible. Maybe they’ll figure something out that works and is less dangerous. Just about the time cars start driving themselves when it won’t matter any more anyway. Lol!

        Yes, you’re absolutely right about 4KTV and 8KTV. There’s not a lot out there for programming though Sony is providing not only the player, but 10 first run movies and a bunch of other native 4K programming with their big TV coming in June this year. Red also has a player coming this summer for users with content in the pipeline. (The same Red that makes professional HD cameras-spendy!) I was not able to find anything available in 8K format anywhere. No specific details on the media being used for delivery were available yet.

        With further research, it appears that 4K is only relevant to large TV sets where the pixels get large enough to see at normal viewing distances. Sets at or below 55″ at a viewing distance of 8′ or more at 1080p do not have the problem. Big sets do. So I think you’re in very good shape for quite some time yet.

        Thanks for the great job of keeping us fellow car nuts in the know on all things automotive.

  6. Scotteeboy says:

    Tom, I really enjoy your reviews, as does my wife and when I’m lucky my two year old daughter. On a recent trip back from the UK I downloaded all of your videos to watch in itunes on the flight back. Worked out great.

    Based on your Volt reviews, I traded in my 328i for one of them. As much as I enjoyed driving my 2012 328i, I love the 2013 Volt. Of course the technology is amazing, but putting the car in “sport” mode really makes for a fun drive; great pick up and nice handling. If you had asked me 4 years ago if I would ever be driving a Chevy I would have definitely said it was highly unlikely.

    I’m looking at replacing my 2005 Prius with a 2013 Leaf. Keep up the great work and I hope to comment more on the site.

    • TV says:

      Ah, your wife sounds awesome!

      I had a Volt for a week of the holidays (just to get reacquainted with it). It reminded me how folks still don’t fully understand the car. There are people who still think it’s all-electric. Everyone who rode in it (and I gave a lot of rides) was impressed. Very cool car, have fun with it.

      BTW, what’s your average distance on a charge? It was averaging a brisk 35 degrees in Seattle in the week I had it and I saw about 32 miles before the generator kicked in.

      • Scotteeboy says:

        Tom, my wife is indeed awesome, and she’s very English. I have had to adjust to my two year old drinking tea in the morning and requesting toast with marmite. But there you have it. They advertise the Volt in the UK as the Vaux Impala.

        Regarding distance per charge, I am anywhere from 35-44 miles per charge. I would say average is around 38. Also, once the vehicle is fully charged, I have seen the estimated miles available to be between 39-41. It doesn’t always say 40, but can go up or down interestingly enough. Temperatures here in SoCal have been cool lately (at least for us) so I’ll let you know how it does in the Summer.

        The myvolt website has extensive metrics available that the user can download which gives info on charging, efficiency, and mileage (although curiously mileage per charge seems to be missing. For example, in the past 30 days my average mileage per trip has been 6 miles. I’ve driven a total of 326 miles during this period, and 314 were electric. Trips to Vegas will obviously alter the data.

        In addition to GM’s RemoteLink software (which is quite useful), they’ve just released a new app called Chevrolet Volt Driver’s Challenge. Check it out on the itunes App store for screen shots. It’s almost like a “FourSquare” for the Volt. It allows you set daily EV goals and tracks it on a global leaderboard. You can see how you stack up against other drivers and then gives you fun badges when you reach certain milestones. For example, today I unlocked the “EV VIP” badge which means I’ve driven 5 days on EV miles alone. Kind of a cool gimmick.

        For me, the Volt allows me to go all electric most of the time but if I need to drive to Vegas, or San Francisco, or even Seattle it’s no problem. The leaf would be a second vehicle.

        While at the LA Autoshow in November, BMW showcased their new i8 and i3. The i8 appears to be hybrid sports car, and looks awesome. But the i3 interests me more. Available in both a 2 door and supposedly 4 car configurations, and with your choice of a fully electric or hybrid model (with gas engine), this might be a great way to go and another electric option.

        • TV says:

          Thanks for the info, hopefully others will be able to use it.

          Tea? Wouldn’t know anything about that, I live in the land of Starbucks (though they did just buy Teavana).

          The app sounds interesting, I’m surprised GM hasn’t flagged me on that. It’s tough for me to try apps on press cars because you have to set it up as an owner. Occasionally they’ll send a phone along with so we can play with the functionality but not this time.

          I’ve very interested in the BMW “i” series. They are working on the carbon fiber aspect of it with Boeing here in Washington.

          Thanks again!

  7. ezhil says:

    You seems to really like the boxster. I really want to ask a question as you are a miata owner, you really know miata better. Is boxster really better than miata? Is it really worth to pay extra for boxster than a miata?. I like the fact that you called miata as scion frs’s close competitor. Is scion frs more fun to drive than a miata?.

    • TV says:

      Yes, the Boxster really is that much better (and it should be for the extra coin). If I could afford the Porsche it would certainly be my pick. Sadly right now I can’t justify the price difference. Drive the two and you will understand.

      Both FR-S and Miata are fun to drive, the Scion is more practical. Of course, you can’t peel the top off the FR-S without doing major damage. While I think the Scion and its lower center of gravity edges the Mazda, It’s really a matter of personal choice.

  8. firestone says:

    What do you think the best diesel cars were of 2012?

    • TV says:

      Diesels are great. MB’s BlueTec is smooth and powerful, liked it in the ML. I’ve been impressed with Passat TDI, getting over 50 mpg in casual testing. Those would be my two since I have not driven the Porsche.

  9. Facepalm says:

    Nice list. I’m glad I’m not the only person who found the last-gen Traverse’s taillights to be odd-looking. The headlights weren’t much better, in my opinion. Thankfully the 2013 model has improved the all-around look. I can’t help but wonder if that new grille will be the future grille of upcoming refreshes like the Cruze and maybe even Malibu, which is going back to the drawing board already, supposedly. Maybe even the next Volt will get it down the line.

  10. hiptech says:

    Say Tom…

    I’ve been considering a small pickup truck and just realized you never do any pickup reviews do you?

    Might be just as well since Ford pulled the Ranger at the end of it’s run there aren’t any small ones left unless you consider the Tacoma or Frontier as “small” as I don’t…

    I’m not a truck fan per se and I don’t buy into the manufacturer’s rhetoric about buying a full size pickup at a lower price point as this is not the same. Some ppl simply want a physically smaller vehicle.

    In any event, is there a possibility of adding a few reviews of these in the incoming year?

    Thanks as always…

    • TV says:

      You’re right, I haven’t in a long time. Part of is it is because they’re a little out of my specialty, part of it is due to the fact there hasn’t been an all-new one for a while (especially the compacts).

      The new Ram has been getting a lot of press and I might check one out that has the new eight-speed tranny. That starts a slippery slope though since F-150 has been freshened and GM is launching all-new trucks. We’ll see…

    • motorstreet says:

      I would go with the Frontier. Basically it’s Frontier vs. Tacoma, because the current Colorado is awful and there’s nothing else. None of these are small, but an extended cab Frontier isn’t big either. The Frontier is cheaper (and usually has better discounts), more powerful, safer, and most reviews say it’s better to drive. I’ve only driven the Frontier, so I don’t have first hand experience with the Tacoma. I liked the Frontier though. The V6 is strong and it rides pretty well. You could wait for the 2014 Colorado, which looks promising so far and there’s a slight chance of a diesel version.

  11. 6wheels says:

    So many great cars came in 2012. I love competition because consumers are the biggest winners. but If I had to pick one car for the crown of car of the year. It must go to the Tesla Model S. because It pushed everything and I believe in the next couple of years we will see many big companies investing billions of dollars in electric cars. and the tesla showed that you don’t have to be a tree hugger hippy to drive an electric car. Tesla Model S is as cool as an aston martin and probably as fast too and the funny thing the price is justified. it is like the iphone of cars you can even buy them in shopping malls. Elon Musk is a genius =)

    • TV says:

      Agreed. The Model S would be my COTY if I did that but really, it’s very difficult to buy and I haven’t been able to drive it since there are no press cars available (unless you’re a major automotive outlet). Very cool tech and beautiful design inside and out.

      We’ll see how much of a genius Elon is in a few years. You never can tell…

  12. augaug says:

    In the Boxster piece you mention the Miata, but don’t say anything about the Mini Convertibles. (both 2 seater and 4 seater) Just curious for your quick one or two sentence thoughts on the Mini drop tops.

    • TV says:

      Haven’t driven them in years so sorry I can’t really comment on them. MINI is front drive, the pics on my list are rear drive.

  13. motorstreet says:

    I think these are all great choices. It’s interesting that 4 out of the 11 are GM products, that shows how far GM has come. I’m guessing we can expect to see a Traverse review soon.

    Some friends of mine recently bought a CX-5, so far all I’ve heard is they absolutely love it. I know they looked at (but may not have driven) some considerably more expensive vehicles before buying the CX-5.

    • TV says:

      I drove the Traverse at a Chevy press event featuring five different models so was unable to shoot a video review on any one car. I simply shot interviews with the engineers and figured I’d use them when I got a press car later. You’ll start seeing those interviews soon starting with the Chevy Spark. Still haven’t seen a Traverse press car but was very impressed with the improvements made. Same with the Enclave, there’s a big difference in the 2013 model, especially the interior.

      Yeah, CX-5 is a neat little rig. Too bad I couldn’t get to the Escape though…

      • motorstreet says:

        Most reviews of the 2013 Traverse, Enclave, and Acadia. I was happy to see the Traverse on this list, because I think most magazines underrate it. They focus too much on how it’s boring and miss how great it is for families. I’ve rented a couple of these and always liked them.

  14. Jack in Jax says:

    Congratulations on a productive (and for all of us, very helpful) 2012, Tom. Your 2012 ‘wrap up’ of bests, with its imbedded links and alternative suggestions, is like icing on the cake. Very nicely done.

    In the ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ category, here are two I encourage you to shoot for in 2013:
    1. Almost every car you now test drive has a ‘measured mpg’ display capability. Given the current sensitivity to the issue of ‘real world’ (vs. EPA rated) mileage these days, I’d encourage you to take a quick shot of each test car’s ‘mpg’ display near the end of each test drive period. For those of us following these reviews, you wouldn’t even have to make a specific comment about it unless you chose. We’d see the number, realize it’s from your test drive period (and know it may not be ‘optimum’ but is certainly real world) and gain some valuable insight. You’ve done this a few times; let’s make it a standard element of all the reviews.
    2. Use the bottom half of your rating scales just a bit more. Best example for me – because I think road noise makes driving far less comfortable during long commutes and family vacations than most realize – is how you’ve treated Accord’s (and more broadly, Honda’s) road noise. ‘Mid pack’ is the inevitable rating you give even disappointing performance or features elements, but now we know you’ve been hearing that same noisy road rash the rest of us have put up with in Honda products. The world won’t end if you include in a generally positive review a few ‘low in class’ or ‘noticeably noisy’ descriptors.

    Finally, congrats on mastering the new production software. The gnashing of teeth was imperceptible on this end.

    Jack

    • TV says:

      Yes, I’ve actually done what you suggest with the MPG display from time to time but the problem with that shot is that it can be wildly off the actual real world number when I’m shooting the video. I might have been romping hard in the city, or coasting down from Snoqualmie Pass and you have no way of knowing that. Then the yahoos start talking about how amazing or awful the fuel economy is. Standard element? Nope, but if I think it’s representative of the actual number, I’ll do it more often, just for you insiders. / ; ^ )

      Yes, I’m aware of the glass-half-full thing. Here’s my take- I’m not interested in trash talk to make myself seem more discerning or even worse, entertaining. Honestly, if I feel it’s mid pack, I think it’s mid pack. I’m trying to offer the very best balanced opinion of each and every car, so that shoppers almost feel like they’ve test driven the car. It’s a delicate balance to give an opinion but still allow a viewer to keep their’s as well. That said, my New Year’s resolution (that started a month ago) is to be more clear on things I don’t like. Those reviews are just getting to the edit stage. BTW, I have always complained that Honda products have more road noise than most. Glad they’re getting better.

      Still working on the software but yes it’s much smoother these days. Now I just need more time…